Blacklist Tenants..Fair or unfair?

4 Replies

For me, choosing a tenant is not just one piece of criteria. It starts with the initial phone call, seeing the tenant at the walk-through, then screening the application. One bad item will not disqualify a tenant, but several will start to paint a picture. If there is one bad item, we will typically ask the tenant to explain. There might be a reasonable explanation (like the guy in the article).

I believe that landlords should use any information available to make a decision, but they also should night blindly say no just because of a potential ding.

That article about the blacklist in New York is disturbing. Obviously it can be used in an unfair way and the ramifications can truly hurt people. It is important for us landlords to proceed with care when filing an for eviction in court and to understand how to use the court information appropriately.

Our local rental association collects unlawful detainer information from our county court. It covers the most recent 7 years of cases filed and is for sale to landlords. It is very useful to me in my screening process. Fortunately, the rental association cautions landlords about its use and prints a disclaimer with the list that helps landlords understand it is a starting point and each case should be looked at individually.

Here is the disclaimer:

"The appearance of a potential tenant's name on this list does NOT necessarily mean the applicant and the person on the list are one and the same. This list also contains no information relating to the disposition of the case itself. It serves best as a tool to prompt further investigation and/or verification if the name of your applicant shows up as a defendant in an Unlawful Detainer action. It is your responsibility to confirm the information contained within the list published by the Clark County Rental Association."

@Rob K. has a policy of not renting to anybody who has been party to a lawsuit involving a landlord. Very similar to what is in the list mentioned in that article. Maybe he will share his reasoning.

Originally posted by @Steve Babiak :
@Rob K has a policy of not renting to anybody who has been party to a lawsuit involving a landlord. Very similar to what is in the list mentioned in that article. Maybe he will share his reasoning.

I've found that the tenant pool is large enough that I don't need to roll the dice on a tenant who has been involved in a landlord-tenant court action. I'm sure some have legitimate cases against their landlord, but I don't want to take a chance on them. In my state, if a tenant wants to withhold rent because of repair issues, they need to place their rent into an excrow account. If they don't do that, their excuse of not paying rent due to needed repiars will not hold water.

I get calls all of the time where I ask them why they are moving. If they start to bad mouth their current landlord and call him a slumlord, that's a red flag. Maybe he is a slumlord, but odds are, the tenant will be a PITA. Sometimes they will talk about what a dump their current place is. When I ask why they ever rented such a dump in the first place, they never have a good answer. I figure it's just out of deperation.

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